EC dares parties to tamper with voting machines

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Friday announced that it would deploy Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) devices with all the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in all future polls.
Also, the commission will hold a “challenge” to give all political parties a chance to prove their claim that the EVMs used in the recently concluded Assembly elections were tampered with or that the EVMs can be tampered with even under the laid down technical and administrative safeguards, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said.
The dates for the “challenge” will be announced soon. The EC also decided that it would ensure the mandatory counting of a certain percentage of VVPAT paper slips in addition to the results displayed electronically on the EVMs.
The commission announced the decisions at a meeting held with seven national and 35 of the 49 state recognized political parties in New Delhi on Friday – amid a controversy over the credibility of the EVMs.
The VVPAT system generates paper slips for all the votes cast on the EVMs linked to them. The EC at present does not count the paper slips in all the cases.
Zaidi and the two Election Commissioners, O P Rawat and A K Joti, held the meeting with political parties in view of the doubts expressed by several of them over the credibility of the EVMs.
“You should be convinced that EC has no favorites…We maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties,” Zaidi earlier said in his opening remarks at the meeting.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal had earlier accused Joti and Rawat of being close to the ruling BJP in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Sixteen political parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the AAP, had on April 10 urged the EC to use ballot papers instead of EVMs in future elections. On April 12, several political parties called on President Pranab Mukherjee to draw his attention.
Saurav Bhardwaj, an AAP MLA, staged a demonstration in the Delhi Assembly to buttress the party’s claim that the EVMs could be tampered with.
“Sad that EC has backed out of hackathon,” Kejriwal tweeted on Friday, indicating that his party was not satisfied with the “challenge” the commission agreed to hold.
At present, VVPATs are deployed in select polling booths. The government last month cleared the commission’s proposal to procure 16.15 lakh VVPAT devices worth Rs 3,173.47 crore by September 2018.

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